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Ward addresses OC Executive Conversations

Wednesday, February 27, 2008  
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Tom Ward, CEO of Sandridge Energy, spoke with a group of OC's leadership team about his humble beginnings and how faith and commitment to integrity have guided him through his business endeavors.

Ward began his venture as an entrepreneur in the early 80's and at the time was competing with fellow landman, Aubrey McClendon. Instead of fighting over resources, Ward decided to partner with McClendon in 1983. Their royalty partnership grew dramatically and in 1989 the pair founded Chesapeake Energy, which is now the largest independent producer of natural gas in the United States.

One of the biggest challenges for Ward during his time at Chesapeake was the company's rapid growth. By 2005, Chesapeake had reached a level of complexity and maturity that did not suit Ward's management style. In 2006, Ward retired from Chesapeake.

However, the day Ward stepped down he received a call from the former owner of what was then Riata, offering Ward a controlling stake in the company. Seeing a valuable offer and a chance to again lead a small but rapidly growing company, Ward personally invested more than $500 million in what was to become Sandridge Energy.

In addition to his success in the energy industry, Ward partnered with his son, Trent, on a charitable endeavor called White Fields, a facility to house and educate boys who have been abused and neglected. White Fields is located in Piedmont. It currently houses eight boys and plans to eventually house 50-60.

"Tom is very committed to the idea that the success God blesses you with should be used to bless others," said Dr. Nathan Mellor, executive director of the Academy of Leadership & Liberty.

Ward married his high school sweetheart, Sch`ree, in 1978. The couple has three children, Trent, Romi and James.

Executive Conversations began in October 2006 when OC President Mike O'Neal saw an opportunity to bring business and civic leaders from the Oklahoma City area to engage OC's students, faculty and management team in discussions on topics such as ethical leadership and building character in an organization.

"Executive Conversations has given me great insights into leading an organization; both the business aspects and the personal aspects of being a leader," Christopher Malan, managing director for the Academy of Leadership & Liberty, said. "Text books can't teach these lessons.  Hearing from experienced executives gives our leadership team here at OC a chance to connect and relate to the region's finest business professionals."

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